By Marty Farmer
After a 1-5 start, the Riverside-Brookfield High School boys basketball team has turned the season around with 14 wins in its last 18 games. Saturday's 67-65 signature win against highly regarded Fenwick provided the most recent proof the Bulldogs are a good team with considerable upside.
Junior guard Zach Vaia hit a fadeaway jumper with one second left in the game to pull off the upset. Vaia finished with 14 points and nine assists. In another recent victory (47-44 over host Immaculate Conception), Vaia sank a bank shot just inside the half-court line at the buzzer.
"There is absolutely no one I trust more than Zach to take a game-winning shot from half court more than Zach Vaia," RBHS senior Ryan Cicenas said. "I don't what it is, but it's not luck. He made a game-winning shot from half court during summer league as well."
Cicenas (16 points), Patrick Hanley (12 points) and Jason Bageanis (13 points) also reached double figures in scoring.
"Our practices have triggered out turnaround," Vaia said. "The team didn't like how we were playing and the record we had because we knew we were better than what were showing. Our coaches have worked us hard in practice. They make sure we are always giving 100 percent at all times."
RBHS (15-9, 7-1 Metro Suburban) takes on host Aurora Central Catholic Friday, Feb. 9. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.
RBHS girls basketball
On a night when the Bulldogs honored their two seniors, Vasara Kulbis and Alyssa Alvarado, a freshman stole the show. RBHS freshman Brenna Loftus scored 26 points on Senior Night to power the Bulldogs past Illiana Christian 43-26.
Although the Bulldogs struggled from the field, making just 16 of 67 shots (24 percent), Loftus went 8-for-15 shooting. The team also rebounded very well with 42 boards overall (21 offensive).
Kulbis contributed nine rebounds and three blocks, while Alvarado had four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Mary Maloney dished out six assists.
The Lions' Olivia Kalata won the all-around at the Lincoln-Way East Regional with a score of 36.60. Kalata took first in bars (9.15) and floor (9.175). She tied with Lincoln-Wat East's Una Harrell for fifth in vault (9.25).
LTHS gymnasts MiCaleigh Dowling (vault) and Nicole Brom (beam) were at-large qualifiers for the Sandburg Sectional.
In team scoring, the host Griffens came in first with 144.90 points, followed by Hinsdale South (136.525), LTHS (133.575), Geneseo (111.375) and Morton (100.575).
Fenwick fared well at its own Class 2A regional in the IHSA individual state tournament on Saturday. Under the guidance of first-year head coach Pete Kowalczuk, the Friars advanced six wrestlers to sectional competition and finished second with 136 points at their regional. Fenwick recorded eight pins in a total time of 18:51.
Fenton won the regional team title with 189 points, followed by the Friars, Glenbard South (118), St. Patrick (115.5), St. Francis (105.5) and Elmwood Park (77).
Matt Zuber (132), Adam Aguilar (138) and Jacob Kaminski (195) each won their weight division for Fenwick. In the finals, Zuber (20-14) defeated Fenton's Danny Ramirez 7-0, while Aguilar (24-10) also earned a shutout victory, 5-0 over Brandon Koskiewicz from Fenton. Kaminski (24-2), a top contender to win state at 195, pinned Glenbard South's Adam Haushahn at 1:36 in the championship bout.
Coupled with Kaminki's successful showing, Fenwick wrestled well in the heavier weight classes. Seniors Aidan Flaherty and Liam Mahon placed second at 182 and 285, respectively. Flaherty (23-10) lost by a major decision 10-1 against Dylan Butts from Fenton in the final. Mahon (18-8) lost by pinfall at 2:55 to Isaiah Brock, another Fenton wrestler.
Fenwick freshman David Capron (5-2) earned third place at 152 with a hard-fought 12-8 decision over Fenton's Miguel Gonzalez.
Friars' Justin Rodriguez (120), Joe Daley (145), Charlie Sullivan (160) and Josh Simpson (170) just missed qualifying for sectionals by finishing fourth.
Fenwick boys swimming
The host Friars took third place in the Metro Catholic Aquatic Championships on Saturday. In the 200-yard medley relay, Connor McCarthy, Liam Hutchinson, Tommy Bartecki and Dan Lynch won the title with a time of 1:39.46. Bartecki, Dan Badja, Hutchinson and Lynch earned second in the 200-yard freestyle relay at 1:29.49.
Hutchinson came in second in the 500-yard freestyle, touching the wall at 4:38.92. In the 100-yard backstroke, Bartecki recorded a time of 55.02 to notch second. Lynch also earned runner-up in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:01.49).
Fenwick will host its sectional on Saturday, Feb. 17.